Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Gregg Easterbrook Writes a Long-Ass Column

So I'm really tired and this post may be very sloppy and non-sensical.... but what the hell, right?
Gregg Easterbrook writes an incredibly long-winded column on ESPN page 2 called “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” where he explains why he’s so much smarter than you and everyone else. I just finished reading this week's edition and I’m too tired to type a better intro. For the record I don't hate the guy or think he's unintelligent. He often has many good points, particularly about NFL strategy. But he can get a little too righteous for my liking.

On the NBA point below, I’m not really saying he’s wrong, just responding. I don’t know. I’m really tired, just read it. I’m not even going to address his hyperbole when talking about the impact of the camera issue on the NFL - but feel free to check out his column for his (long) take on it (hint: it's catastrophic). Also, if you want a lot of comparisons of Bill Belichick and Richard Nixon, that link will suit you well.

Think the NFL can't decline? Fifteen years ago, the National Basketball Association was going up, up, up by every measure and was widely considered the gold-plated can't-miss "sport of the next century." Since then, NBA popularity and ratings have plummeted while NBA-based teams have floundered in international competition.

No, actually NBA popularity and ratings plummeted when Michael Jordan retired, which coincided with a lockout. There are dozens of other reasons, but I’d point to those two first. Also, losing in international competition is largely the result of much improved international competition.

I believe it was 1994 when Sports Illustrated had a cover story called something like “Why the NHL is hot, and the NBA is not”. Just saying.

Fifteen years ago, sports-marketing types would have said "impossible!" to the notion that only 11 percent of American households would watch the NBA Finals, which is what happened this June.

Look at the chart midway down on the left of this page. Notice anything? The ratings were high with Jordan or Los Angeles in the Finals, and pretty much lower any time the Spurs were involved. Also, this is a long time to be reviewing ratings. I think if you told the sports-marketing types about the rise in video games, and explained to them “the Internet”, TIVO/DVR, and cable packages with hundreds of channels and then told them the finals would be played between San Antonio and Cleveland, they would have thought of that notion as being very possible.

I also couldn’t quite follow Easterbrook’s train of thought when talking about the possibility of the Patriots cheating on Sunday night against the Chargers. Namely if they had used illegally obtained video from the January AFC playoff game (which he acknowledges had different coaching) to their advantage on Sunday night.

Was New England cheating again Sunday night, when the Patriots advanced the ball with such ease it seemed they knew what defense San Diego would be in?

He's asking that question for real. It's at the tail end of a paragraph where he explains exactly how the Patriots could have been cheating. Now let’s read some snippets of his analysis of the game from a different section of his column.

What in blazes was the story with the Chargers? Rarely has a quality team seemed so ill-prepared for a monster game, and rarely has a quality team seemed to give up the moment the going got tough.

He then goes through several plays where the Chargers should have known what was coming, but were ill-prepared. Based on AccuScore and (he seems to imply) common sense, the Chargers were not playing smart.

He concludes just by saying, “That's awful defense” after both long-winded detailed paragraphs explaining how the Chargers sucked.

But what was really awful about San Diego's performance was the coaching timidity.

He then goes into detail about how San Diego should have gone for it fourth-and-1 near midfield in the second quarter when they were already down 17 points and later in the quarter they punted again on 4th and 2.

When the coach quits on the game in the second quarter, it should come as no surprise that the players quit.

So first he questions if they were cheating because they advanced the ball easily and seemed to know what defense was coming.

Then we get:
- “ill-prepared”
- “awful defense”
- “awful defense”
- “coaching timidity”
- “coach quits”
- “players quit”
…to describe the Chargers.

Hmm, well….. I realize that those statements and the Patriots cheating aren’t mutually exclusive, but why would anyone who watched the game waste time putting a lot of thought into crediting their offensive output to the Patriots cheating, especially when that person has such disdain for the Chargers’ defensive execution, strategy, and effort?

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